Governor's race shake-up surprises local leaders - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Governor's race shake-up surprises local leaders

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In a surprise move to many Democrats and Republicans, lieutenant governor hopeful Eric Kearney dropped out of the race on Tuesday.  The Cincinnati senator left the race after growing attention he was gaining for unpaid taxes.

Cleveland gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald says his campaign is moving forward, but the new vacancy has some local political players wondering about the overall impact on the race for governor. 

"We need to make sure we don't have a stranglehold on an anchor," says Lucas Co. Democratic Chair Ron Rothenbuhler, who agreed with Kearney's decision to step down.  "We're looking positively towards what we can do to make sure that our ticket has the best chance of succeeding in our goal."

"Politics 101, is that you screen your candidates before they enter the race," says Lucas Republican Party Chair, Jon Stainbrook.  "It does not look like the Democrats even vetted this candidate before he entered the race. It was disastrous for them."

Reports show Kearney, his wife and their Cincinnati publishing business owed more than $700,000 in state and federal tax liens.

Ed Fitzgerald released this statement to supporters on Tuesday after his former running mate made his announcement.

"I have enormous respect for Senator Kearney's record as a community leader in the Cincinnati area, as a family man, and as one of the most respected and effective legislators in Ohio. Eric's decency is matched only by his record of leadership and legislative accomplishment.

Eric and I agree about the challenges facing Ohio, and about how important it is for the state to change direction in the next election. Because that is our primary concern, we agreed that it is best for Sen. Kearney to step down from the ticket. Ultimately, the discussion of the crucial issues facing Ohio was in danger of being drowned out, making this decision difficult but necessary.  

The campaign will now move on with the discussion squarely focused where it should be: How we can refocus state policies to benefit working people and middle-class families who are finding it increasingly difficult to get by in John Kasich's faltering economy."

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